Middle Eastern operator Emirates has posted an 80% fall in net profits to Dhs982 million ($268 million) for the full year 2008.

As a result Emirates Group also saw a heavy slide in net profit to Dhs1.49 billion, down 72% on the previous year, although revenues were up more than 10% to Dhs46.3 billion.

Emirates says the figures reflect the impact of record fuel prices in the first six months of the year as well as the economic climate. Fuel costs accounted for 36% of the carrier's operating expenditure.

Emirates Airbus A380

"Under the circumstances this is a satisfactory result," says Emirates Group chief Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.

Emirates Group says it cash balance stayed "healthy" at Dhs8.7 billion, although this figure was down from Dhs14 billion as a result of aircraft funding, cabin retrofits and new construction projects.

"No-one could have predicted the scale of the worldwide recession which is now impacting every country," says Al-Maktoum.

"As we move into the new financial year, the outlook is not improving. Although fuel prices are dropping, demand for business- and first-class traffic is still weak in many markets."

But he says he still believes, despite the economic situation, the coming year will be one of "satisfactory growth" for the group.

"Our development plans remain unchanged," he insists. "We have weathered the last 12 months with satisfactory growth, maintained the quality of our award-winning service, and maintained staff numbers in the face of an unsettled future."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news